We optimized the NFL by moving teams to new cities. Sorry, Cleveland

From The Washington Post:

Over the winter, one professional football team doubled its value with nothing more than a few moving vans. By ditching St. Louis for Los Angeles, where their owner is building a new stadium, the Rams instantly transformed themselves into one of the most valuable franchises in the National Football League. Forbes previously estimated the Rams were worth $1.45 billion, 28th among 32 teams. Now, under the Hollywood sign, they’re worth an estimated $3 billion. In the NFL, only the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys are worth more.

(This is true even though the Rams will still go 7-9 this season, which — time peg alert! — starts tonight.)

Franchise moves are rare in the NFL. They require owners to secure new stadium deals, put aside all sentiment — and then gain the approval of fellow owners.

But this only made us wonder: What if franchise location was a free-for-all? What if, during the NFL offseason, every team owner was essentially told, Your lease is void, move your team wherever it will be worth the most money.

The value of a franchise is based on its ability to generate revenue. This has to do with everything from a team’s stadium deal to its merchandise and ticket sales to its marketing agreements. But the Forbes rankings are, more than anything else, a function of market size. The more fans you have, the easier it becomes to make money. And the larger your city and fan base, the more attractive your franchise becomes to a prospective buyer — thus, juicing the market value. Think of it this way: If you’re a billionaire, do you want to buy the team in LA? Or St. Louis?

So, what if every owner was free to discard fans’ opinions and move to the place where his or her franchise would be worth the most? …

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